A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
When you're honest with others about what you want, good things (such as love) come to you. Vulnerability is a sign of maturity. But there are also negative messages: Boys will be boys, girls should toughen up and ignore sexual harassment, you should change everything about yourself to get the person you like to like you back, and smoking and breaking the rules is cool.
Positive Role Models
Danny recognizes that his bad boy image is dishonest and strives to become more worthy of Sandy. But he makes a lot of mistakes to get there, including bullying other students and making a too-aggressive pass at Sandy until she has to fight him off. Sandy is a traditional "good girl," and Danny balances her out by bringing some fun into her life. Frenchy is a supportive friend. Most supporting characters have little regard for authority, harass other students, and make risky decisions.
Film centers around extreme gender roles: Male characters view females as sex objects, frequently saying things like "chicks" being "only good for one thing," while female characters look for boyfriends with money and nice cars and worry about their looks. (Frenchy says, "Beauty is pain.") A thin girl talks about dieting, and a boy says to her earnestly, "I think there's more to you than fat." Danny and Sandy are the exception; she doesn't respond to Danny's fake machismo. But overall, the behavior of almost all characters in the film upholds sexism without much critique. Rare glimpses of people of color can be counted on one hand: a Black band singer, an East Asian gymnast, a couple of Black dancers in a large musical number.
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Violence & Scariness
While playing sports, a character hits two students and snaps an umpire's mask. A teen draws a switchblade in preparation for a rumble. In a car race, the opponent's tires have blades that tear up the main character's car. In various scenes, sexual harassment is played off as "boys will be boys": The main character makes a pass at his girlfriend, pushing her down into the car seat and aggressively kisses her; she has to fight to push him off, yelling "stop it" for him to finally stop. A teen looks up another teen's skirt on the bleachers; she stomps away as the boy and his friends laugh. An adult TV and radio personality hits on a teen girl at the school dance ("Do your parents know I come into your room every night ... over KZAZ, that is"), and she's receptive but later says "I saw him putting aspirin in my Coke," implying he tried to roofie her.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Characters make out, sometimes with tongue. At the drive-in, the main character makes a pass at his girlfriend, pushing her down into the car seat and aggressively kissing her; she has to fight to push him off, yelling "stop it" for him to finally stop -- it's portrayed as expected behavior. Implied sexual activity when two characters discuss a broken condom, resulting in a teen's fear she may be pregnant. Teens moon a passing car and later a TV camera (naked derrieres visible). A character is briefly shown in her bra. During a sleepover, teens dance around in their nighties and mock a girl's virginity (on the lyric "lust," one girl spreads her legs and flashes her panties). Male characters frequently make obscene gestures, including pretending to motorboat someone and grab at breasts. The song "Greased Lightning" has strong sexual content, though the innuendo may go over younger viewers' heads.
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Characters use rude gestures, usually sexual (pretending to motorboat or grab at breasts, etc.). They say "ass," "crap," "weenie," "heinie," "flog your log," "friggin' A," "dingleberries," "jugs," "gangbang," "hooker," "freaks," and "dork," and one character's nickname is "Putz." The song "Greased Lightning" has profanity including "t-t," "s--t," and "p---y wagon." In another number, someone sings, "Look at me, I'm Sandra Dee, lousy with virginity."
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Products & Purchases
Characters drink Pepsi, mention Coke, sing to an Ipana toothpaste commercial. Glimpses of Pennzoil, Firestone tire ads.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Main character portrays smoking as cool, often has a cigarette dangling off his lip. Other teens also smoke, drink beer (while driving) and wine, and spike the punch at the school dance. A teen girl mentions how an adult "put an aspirin in my Coke" -- implying that it's a roofie.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Grease is based on the same-named 1971 musical. It's lots of fun but full of racy content, and you might want to give it a quick re-watch before showing it to kids to make sure you remember exactly what they'll be seeing -- especially the outdated gender roles (teen boys are obsessed with sex, and girls only talk about their looks and boys). Characters smoke, drink, and spike the punch at the school dance. Teens use rude, often sexual gestures and use words like "ass," "crap," "weenie," "flog your log," etc. The song "Greased Lightning" has profanity including "t-t," "s--t," and "p---y wagon." Characters make out and have sex off-screen (characters discuss a broken condom, and a girl thinks she's pregnant). Naked bottoms are seen when characters moon a passing car and, later, a TV camera. A teen draws a switchblade in preparation for a rumble, but most violence is of the sexual variety. Frequent sexual harassment is excused as "boys will be boys," and an adult makes a pass at a high school student at a dance and puts a roofie in her soda, which is played for laughs. John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John star. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Though it's by no means an accurate portrayal of life in the 1950s, this popular musical delivers an entertaining mix of singing, dancing, and comedy. Grease -- which won a People's Choice Award in 1979 -- is hard to beat. It covers iconic American high school moments: the big pep rally, the school dance, worrying about image, and, of course, falling in love. And it's the most profitable movie musical of all time, with its biggest hit, "Summer Nights," still a standard at weddings, karaoke parties, and dances. Although the story is somewhat weak, the music and contagious energy more than make up for it, as do stellar performances by Travolta, Newton-John, Stockard Channing, and Jeff Conaway. Parents will especially enjoy seeing Travolta in his early days (boy, can he dance!).
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.